The Secret Life of Bees Gina Prince-Bythewood

The Secret Life of Bees Gina Prince-Bythewood
Sue Monk Kidd's novel about a white girl befriending a family of African-American women in the segregated American South successfully moves to the big screen. This DVD package takes it a step further by including a director's cut and two commentaries, plus a score of bonus features that make The Secret Life of Beesan excellent catch. It stars up-and-comer Dakota Fanning as adolescent Lily, who escapes her mean father after town racists beat Lily's housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). Lily and Rosaleen seek refuge across South Carolina at August Boatwright's (Queen Latifah) house; she runs a prosperous honey business with her sisters. The matronly August also knew Lily's deceased mother, which is Lily's true agenda. Beesis about a young girl's search for her mother, and building a community that crosses racial and generational lines. Though set in 1964, when violence was erupting during the Civil Rights Movement, the movie plays race as a secondary theme, which allows the film to focus on its characters. August's sisters — hardened activist June (Alicia Keys) and simpleminded innocent May (Sophie Okonedo of Hotel Rwanda) — round out the Boatwright household. Altogether they create a convincing and colourful female ensemble rarely seen in film. The performances are excellent across the board and make up for the slow pacing in the second half and plot predictability. The communal vibe of the production carries over to the audio commentary by stars Fanning and Latifah, director Gina Prince-Bythewood and the producers, who sound like they're having brunch as they impart anecdotes about the low-budget shoot. A second commentary by the director and her editor is more technical and will appeal more to cineastes. The creative duo also lend their voices to eight deleted scenes, some of which are gems. Of the four featurettes, "Inside The Pink House with Sue Monk Kidd" is the most fun, as the novelist takes us on a tour of the pink Boatwright house to explain all the props that the art director created based on Kidd's book. For good measure, there's footage of the Toronto International Film Festival premiere last fall. The only extraneous extra is the extended director's cut, which is only marginally different and no better than the finished film. (Fox Searchlight)